Last Sunday I was a bit frustrated because while we were getting ready to talk about friendliness in the country, I had set up the possibility of throwing a Skype screen up on the computer at church and having a conversation in the sermon with one someone who is serving in Afghanistan. Ted, welcome to the 21st century! A good question for church last week was what moved you to serve our country in this way and how can we be friendly to you this week. Not a bad question for the Fourth of July.
But we weren't ready for the 21st century after all. The connection couldn't be made. We will try again soon.
In an older congregation, I am often asked about young generations who do so much relating on Facebook or text messages. We have all noticed "kids" sitting next to one another texting each other. What kind of a relationship is that. But I think about the enormity of what we tried to do in church last week. Very close to us, we have the ability to create communities we carry around in our pockets. My daughter has an iPod and can use Facetime to talk to a bunch of her friends any time. Though Skype and conference calls, I can sit all by myself on a hill in Fortuna and talk face to face with a friend or a counselor or a resource person in the Bay Area (or probably the moon).
Soon, we will have the kids in Sunday School partnering with a church in some other part of the world. They can make friends with someone eleven time zones away. They can see what their mission money is doing right now. And when we sing "In Christ there is no East or West" we could actually sing it with a soldier in Afghanistan. Friendliness is, or can, be global.
I am not sure I think like that yet, but the possibilities are staggering. I am sure that something changes in my relationships to my neighbors, and perhaps something is lost. But I am asking the question, as a pastor, what it means to visit a member of the congregation twice a year when that young member talks to every one of their friends four or five times a day.